I need to wake up. It is not all about how warm and fuzzy I feel during worship in a place of safety and aesthetically pleasing surroundings.
Laying down what we want to protect or are afraid of losing or are terrified we will never have is not the same thing as losing those things.
|Good words from John Eldridge …|
|You probably know what you have been afraid to entrust to God. When we surrender our fear, we are offering it to Jesus. We are saying, “This fear is too much fear for me to bear. I give it to you because I believe you are good and worthy of my trust.” When we actively, by faith, lay down our fears at the feet of Jesus, we pick up his love in return. It is an uneven trade, a heavenly exchange…
Laying down what we want to protect or are afraid of losing or are terrified we will never have is not the same thing as losing those things. It is surrendering them. It is opening up our clenched hand around them and allowing God access to them and to us. It is actually saying yes to God for them. Yes to his plan. Yes to his way. It is believing that just as his ways are higher than the heavens are above the earth, so his way for the things we fear for is higher. This God of ours is a God of life, of goodness. He is the God of the Resurrection. We lay down our fear. We pick up Jesus. He is the only way we can live beyond fear. He is the Way.
This is a thought-provoking article, but only read if you are open to exploring your own assumptions!
In 1934, at the age of 28, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a letter to a friend about an upcoming conference that would involve members of churches from several countries and denominations. In this letter, he wrote, “We must make it clear—fearful as it is—that the time is very near when we shall have to decide between National Socialism and Christianity. It may be fearfully hard and difficult for us all, but we must get right to the root of things, with open Christian speaking and no diplomacy. And in prayer together we will find the way.” This was before the Holocaust began, before WWII began. But Bonhoeffer saw that one could not embrace the Christian faith and embrace the political tide of his nation that was so enamored with the Nazi party. The two simply were not compatible. On April 9th, 1945, he was executed for his part in the…
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This saying is missing three key words from what Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy. The missing words “love” and “all kinds.” Now read what Paul actually wrote: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” [1 Timothy 6:10] Note the importance difference. Paul is not saying that money is evil. He implies that money is neutral. God, in all of the Bible, never tells us that money is evil in of itself. We can choose to use it for good or evil. What is evil is when money becomes an idol for us. When we love money more than God, that is when we open the door for evil of all sorts.
“Man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. The GODS help them that help themselves.”
We see cute little whimsical says all of the time; on bumper sticker, in holiday and birthday cards, on billboards and lots of other places to catch our attention. They are the “sound bites” of wisdom no matter what era in which we happen to live.
Unfortunately, these sayings are nowhere to be found in the Bible. Even though they are easy to remember and sound wise, they are unbiblical. If one takes the time to read the Bible and compare what it says against the saying, mostly what they teach is opposite to what the Bible really teaches. Solomon wrote in his book of Proverbs this: “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” [Proverbs 3:7 NLT] Dallas Willard translates this verse as: “I don’t know what I need to know and must now devote my full attention and strength to finding out.”
Here is the 1st of twenty:
“God helps those who help themselves.”
As with so many misstatements from the Bible, this statement is actually about self-reliance and self-righteousness. It’s point is simple: if we have an attitude of trying harder and doing better, then God will step in and help us and not before. However, this attitude actually gets in the way of the work of God.
It is hard to nail down where this saying originated but most historians say that it seems to first appear in the Aesopian fable Hercules and the Wagoneer. Aesop lived from about 620–564 BC. Like most fable of its genre it is brief so here it is in its entirety:
A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the Strong. “O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress.” But Hercules appeared to him, and said: “Man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. The GODS help them that help themselves.”
Benjamin Franklin, known for being a deist and author of Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1736 wrote: “God helps them that help themselves.” Franklin did not believe that God was playing any active role in the affairs of men. He of the Yankee mindset common to the New England states at that time that if a man was not willing and able to help himself, then that man was without hope and not to be pitied. Ben’s attitude was if men were without hope and felt helpless were just out of luck. The Bible teaches something very unique. Ben Franklin was very much aware of this difference from hearing and commenting on great preachers such as George Whitfield and D.L. Moody, both who preached in Boston. God’s message to us is this: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly….But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We are not left without help. We just need to look in the right direction to find the solution that God has provided: “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.”
McDonald’s has 1.7 million workers worldwide; the Church has only 400,000 missionaries. It’s not a lack of resources, but hardened hearts.
Something worth reposting from OM World Bytes by Lawrence Tong, O.M. International Director:
I recently read a study that estimated that today’s total Bible-believing missionary force is approximately 400,000 men and women among over 6.4 billion people who have yet to confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour (including nominal Christians and sects)—one missionary for 16,000 unreached people! Frankly, that is depressing and unacceptable. McDonald’s has 1.7 million workers worldwide; the Church has only 400,000 missionaries. It’s not a lack of resources, but hardened hearts. The great need, anywhere in the world, is for ‘ordinary people’ to share the good news among neighbours.
When Jesus said that the harvest is great but the workers are few, He did so at the pinnacle of His ministry and popularity (Matt. 9:37). Today millions are turning to Christ, often from least-expected areas. A pastor told me that 5,000 Muslims were coming to faith in Christ every week in Indonesia. It took 2,000 years to grow the Christian population to four per cent; in the last 60 years, we have leapt to twelve per cent. If that doesn’t amaze us and spark a reflex, we need to ponder why. You might say that the harvest is plentiful, but our response is pitiful.
Highlighting the harvest and need for workers, Jesus’ command was clear: Pray. My first introduction to the classic OM prayer meeting was in 1977. A group returning from serving with OM invited me to a small room, where I joined 30 others. The leader gave out a set of 52 simple prayer cards, saying that everyone should take a few and then pray aloud for the needs of those nations. Never had I dreamt of doing such a thing and I can’t remember the countries I prayed for. But the attitude of the group was life-changing for me: They prayed fervently in expectation that God would change the world through prayer. We need to bring that kind of prayer meeting back.
In a past era, teams would only advance through prayer and sacrifice. In place after place, there would be strong resistance, and so we waited on God. Of course it was not easy. Of course we had to be willing to encourage one another to keep praying, keep thinking about lost and suffering people. Of course we understood that our own needs paled in comparison and that God was in charge anyway. Is it time to capture that again? Of course it is.
O.M. International Director.
There is good news and bad news available in the world in which we live. One would have to be a hermit living in a cave without any connection to media not know that our world is in trouble. I am not just talking about the incessant news about the agressive mud-slinging presidential canidates boasting about how they alone are the only ones capable of saving America. I am talking on a global scale about the degrading state of affires here in the USA and around the world. Murder, terrorism, hate mongering, lying, alcoholism, bolimeia, cheating, boasting, aggression, racism, religious fanatism, greed and God-hating, just to name a few. There is no security in the world that can be provided by humans. The lack of security creates a craving for long-lasting ability to live peaceful lives. No matter how much we try to fill our lives with things, we are still left in an unsatisfied state. We can never quite fill the glass of our hearts to the brim to quench that thirst. That is the bad news.
Isn’t is sad that governments around the world pour billions upon billions of dollars into solutions involving military saber rattling, mental illness initiatives, evolutionary science; in reality doing everything humanly possible to keep God out of the equation. Maybe that is where we should turn as a last resort? We have tried everything else. God is the one who made us and not we ourselves. The craving for peace can only be fulfilled when we as a people know that God is sovereign. We can ignore and deny that fact. Turning our backs will not make the fact go away. Since He alone is the Creator of all things infinite and finite, we are marked with His image. We are meant to be doing life in His pastures.
Therefore, in order to quench this craving for elusive peace, we need to conscouiously make a choice to serve the Lord and do it not grudgingly as religous duty. We must do it with gladness. But that will noly happen untill we decide to come into His presence and willingly acknowledge that He is God and not we ourselves. Only then will deep seated craving we all have for peace be satisfied. Try it; you just might be caught by surprise!
Progress in our journey of faith is made public in the testing.
Sometimes things stare at us in the face and we are too busy to take notice. Listen to the following quote: “[Jesus is] my rock and my fortress and for Your name’s sake You lead and guide me. … My times are in Your hand.” [Psalm 31:3,15] These are not questions of faith. These are statements considered fact from those who knew firsthand what life-threatening trouble was like. David was not hopeful that what he prayed was true. He knew from first-hand experience the truth. Jesus prayed this prayer often not because he was hopeful but because he demonstrated trust that God was his only rock and fortress during the times of profound duress.
Resolute trust. That is what it takes to turn head knowledge into experiential faith. It is the essence of wisdom. It is a process revealing progress as we learn through each new trial that Jesus has in fact redeemed and restored us and therefore we can commit ourselves into His hands. Progress in our journey of faith is made public in the testing. When trouble comes do we first blame God? Do we question ‘why’ and turn away from God? Christ followers the world over will testify to the fact that when ‘life goes south’ it is here that they have the opportunity to discover with each new faith-challenging circumstance that God has not delivered them into the hand of their enemies. But we have to be willing to look at the rock and not at the waves. We have to be willing to step out of the boat and follow Jesus wherever He leads.
Most of the time profound truth lies in the areas where we do not want to relinquish control. We see life from an finite, not an infinite position. Knowing this we still resist wanting to surrender control of our lives. We have trouble seeing the “image of God” in others. Just listen to the rhetoric being slung around from leaders who claim to be Christian this year.
“My times are in Your hand.” [David]
“What God does in time, He planned from eternity. All that He planned from eternity, Jesus carried out in time.” [J.I.Packer]
No matter the direction of the wind, they flex. If they were rigid, they would snap.
One summer afternoon years ago, an older business friend and I were at a cafe having coffee. We liked the place because it had a great view of a tree filled park across the street with a spectular view of the snow-topped Colorado Rockies behind it. This particular afternoon, I was complaining about a office situation that I was up-in-arms about. After I finished my ‘rant, he asked if he might give me a word of advice. I respected his insights so I said sure. He told me to put my coffee down, turn in my seat and take a good look out the window.
I looked and then turned back to him. “Turn around and look again,” he said. “You know why those magnificient oak trees live to be hundreds of years old?” I shook my head ‘no.’ “Because they are flexible. When the winds come roaring in gale force down from the mountains or howling off of the plains, they bend. No matter the direction of the wind, they flex. If they were rigid, they would snap. That’s why they live to be hundreds of years old.” By the time I had turned around he had picked up the tab and left.
We are becoming more and more an inflexible society. Bending does not mean changing. Bending means absorbing the ebb and flow of ideaological currents. Inflexiblilty results in chaos and cruelty.
Jesus saw two fishermen, brothers casting their nets from the shore of the lake and He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.[Mk. 4:19-20] No questions asked. No hesitation. Just immediate action of dropping their nets and following Jesus.
That is the best action we can take. Just dropping our nets full of stuff that we do not need, that weighs us down and trips us up. Jesus is calling out to people. He is listening for the sound of nets dropping to the ground. The next sound should be our purposeful footsteps following Jesus in faith.
What stops you from dropping your ‘net.’ What stops Jesus from from using you for ministry?